Teeth Dreams

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Dehooking a shark

How a shark-fishing expedition with his sons expands a father’s horizons in more ways than one.

Sometimes, if a dispute becomes intractable, even a stubborn captain must dispense with reason and consider compromise. On our boat this became necessary after my two older sons developed a potentially mutinous desire.

They wanted to chase sharks.

This yearning, natural for boys of their age and often for boys several decades older, faced deep-rooted facts. I am an inshore fisherman, a meat gatherer by practice and preference. Which means that I resist changing habits or haunts, unless changes might yield more squid, scup, bass, or fluke.

But the position of the boys—Jack, who was 14, and Mick, 12—had remained unwavering for years. They wanted to chase sharks.

We were stuck in circular discussions. I would tell them that shark fishing is not readily done on the rock piles near Rhode Island’s coast, where we pass weekends and nights filling coolers with fish of a more ordinary lineage and size. I would tell them that the most common sharks in our region set up farther out, at the Mud Hole, a long depression in the ocean floor about 20 miles southeast of Point Judith’s Harbor of Refuge, where we have a slip. We’d have to drive past a lot of good fishing to get out there, I’d say, and this would be akin to leaving a good restaurant to search for a meal.

The boys always offered the same reply.

When can we go sharking?

I’d rely on: You’re too small. We’ll get to the sharks soon.

This approach sufficed for many years, but was not ironclad, given that children grow.

So there came a day last summer, about the time that Jack was fitting into my oilskin pants (but after we had filled the freezer with bags of cleaned squid and vacuum-sealed fish fillets) that our argument abruptly ended.

There was no more denying it. The boys were big enough to handle stand-up tackle for the sharks they were most likely to meet—blues, small makos, and threshers.

It was time to let them have their way.

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This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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